On Saturday, David and myself decided to have a bash at the Parrot Crossbills at Holt CP. David, hadn’t been up to see them yet and I had only been the once, so was happy to start the day with a second helping of these superb birds. There was the added bonus of a few familiar faces, including John Ward, a long time friend from back in Northamptonshire.
Once we had finished with at the Country Park, David and myself scooted round to Edgefield Tip, in order to go through some of the gulls that have been gathering in good numbers in the opposite field. The Glaucous Gull was still present, as well as a presumed Glaucous x Herring hybrid, or ‘Viking Gull’.
1st-winter Glaucous Gull, Edgefield, taken by John Friendship-Taylor.
Once we were satisfied nothing else of note was present amongst the flock we headed down to the coast road to search for the Black Brant. Small groups of Brent Geese were situated in several spots along the cast road from Cley to Salthouse, with most just in land. Some had started to syphon off into the field to the east of East Bank, and with a male Greater Scaup at Arnold’s Marsh, we thought we would spend some time here. After seeing the Scaup, David and myself slowly walked back in the rain towards the carpark. More Brents had arrived from the fields and a decent sized group was now forming. The Black Brant was superbly obvious, as any bird showing ‘features’ of this race should be. It is remarkable though, how these birds morph as the light changes. When I first saw the bird at Cley -the weekend prior- the tobacco hue described by Black Brant power-house, James McCullum were obvious. In this duller, over-cast weather, this was not always, if at all, the case.
The Black Brant aside, the most interesting birds in the flock were two 1st-winter birds, both belonging to a family group. Both parents were standard Dark-bellied birds, but the juveniles were easily the most obvious individuals in the flock.
1st-winter Brent Goose, Cley NWT, taken by Kieran Nixon.
As you can see from the above record shot, the overall colouration was extremely pale, almost greyish. The barring on the greater coverts was much broader and this seemed to bleed into an almost barred appearance on the upper-parts. Even the dark neck had a silvery wash to it, making it appear sugar coated. I am not going to comment too much further on the bird, and whether this is a product of leucism, or these two youngsters are just at the very extreme of their spectrum is unclear in my eyes. Whatever the case, they are certainly food for thought and I will be posting further on the two once I have heard back from some more experienced observers of these flocks.
Sunday, Robert Smith joined me and as he hadn’t been over this way since the Parrots had been found, we started again at Holt CP. We were also meeting some friends from Northampton. Again we were successful and very good views were had of c.7 birds by the entrance.
A quick look at the Glaucous Gull was again on the cards, as Jon and Kirsty both needed it. We left here and tried to help them also locate some Snow Buntings down at Salthouse, but a walk east from the carpark to Kelling produced none. Strangely, there was a Black Brant type amongst a group of Brents here. The reason it was strange was because a Black Brant had just come out on the pager from Cley. I had heard whispers that there were two birds around, but this bird remained distant and it was difficult to rule out a hybrid.
Robert and I left the guys at Cley watching the other Black Brant and went off to Holt again to twitch Small Stagshorn (Calocera cornea) that James Emerson had informed us of. This attractive, but small Fungi is pictured below, along with a couple of other bits we noted in and around the Beech stands.
Small Stagshorn (Calocera Cornea), Holt CP, taken by Robert Smith.
Common Eyelash (Scutellinia scutellata), Holt CP, taken by Robert Smith.
Crepidotus sp, Holt CP, taken by Robert Smith.
Common Candlesnuff Fungus (Xylaria hypoxylon), Holt CP, taken by Robert Smith.
Chondrostereum purpureum, Holt CP, taken by Robert Smith.